Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Michael Schein

Beyond Sirius

“The success of quantum mechanics forces us to accept that the electron, a constituent of matter that we normally envision as occupying a tiny, pointlike region of space, also has a description involving a wave that, to the contrary, is spread through the entire universe. . . .”
                                           -- Brian Greene,
The Fabric of the Cosmos

This is the origin of despair.
Damn Heisenberg, but
it is necessary to be some-
where. The heart is no
hunter, it is prey
seeking a snug nest
beneath the ever-
shifting stardust.

I remember chemistry class,
Mr. Button with his white shirt
peering through black horn rims
at the neatly-drawn
atomic solar system.

The atom was our friend then,
it beat the Japs, powered the
Nautilus, held out the
promise of a perpetual

Electrons circled the nucleus
in neat elliptical orbits
sketched in with the
same bold strokes that
made Mickey Mouse

No speck ever suddenly disappeared
to the dark side of the moon.
was too serious
to drop his putter
and rematerialize
a parsec or so beyond

Or so we believed.
What did we know?

That which we held dearest
was already

The unease now
so pervasive;
is it the cold pull
of uncertainty
on jittery bones?


“Reality encompasses all of the events in spacetime...just as we envision all of space as really being out there, as really existing, we should also envision all of time as really being out there, as really existing, too.”
                                           -- Brian Greene,
The Fabric of the Cosmos

It is all still here. Frame upon frame,
hanging in the frozen continuum.
That first kiss, the way you straightened
your stocking, a small blush of pleasure
rouging your cheeks. The skinny dip
at Klickitat Creek, your shriek as a
silver fish slipped between your legs.
The snowflakes on the solarium glass
as Granny ate one last piece of cake.
The music box that played Dance
of the Hours. All the wildflowers
I ever picked you, still straight and fresh.
Our daughter’s first cry. Those moments
of rapture, death erased by
caresses so deep they dissolved
the imagined boundaries of self.

It is terrible to know that it is all
still here. The accumulation of small un-
kindnesses, the inattentions, the takings
for granted. The anger over a new dress,
a dish in the sink. Those words that should
never have been spoken, now embalmed
in amber. The betrayals,
like Lady Macbeth’s damned spot:
ineradicable. Our bitter farewell.

As if it were so easy in an ever-sundered present
in which somewhen my kisses
still rouse the bloom in your cheek.
The first day we brushed skin to skin
our venomous parting was history,
yet even now, as I sit alone in our kitchen,
do we not slip naked together
into chill moonlit waters?

Oh, let me dive back in and drown there,
that I shall never see this sorrow,
but always be and be again
in the instant our love is a fresh splatter
on the canvas of yesterday’s tomorrow.
Dust off the impressionist half-smile,
the magical realism, the nudes.
If you look closely you might see
the pentimento of my heart
like a stone under water,
unalloyed by oils
foolishly layered after.

©2010 by Michael Schein

Michael Schein, author of the novels Bones Beneath Our Feet (Plain View Press, forthcoming 2011) and Just Deceits (2008), also writes poetry and plays, teaches writing, and is Director of LiTFUSE Poets’ Workshop. His poetry has been widely published, nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice, and stuck to refrigerators by magnets.

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